Latest News

  • FRU talk to future Pupils
    Tue, 11/28/2017 - 16:51

    FRU Assistant Legal Officer Verity Bell has delivered a talk about FRU to the national pupillage fair on 25 November. See her talk here
    Said Verity “it was a pleasure to explain the benefits of doing pro bono work for FRU to a very interested audience at the national pupillage fair. There was a very encouraging response from attendees after my talk. I look forward to seeing many of those people as FRU volunteers; gaining valuable skills and experience and giving access to justice for FRUs clients”.

    Thu, 11/23/2017 - 09:46

    The Free Representation Unit has recommended the abolition of an ineffective stage in the appeal process for sick and disabled social security claimants.
    In a submission to the Work & Pensions Parliamentary Select Committee the FRU identifies that internal DWP Mandatory Reconsideration invariably lead to little change in the original decision and are therefore a waste of resources and an unnecessary burden on benefit claimants. FRU recommends that removing the review stage would streamline the appeals process, enabling a speedier resolution for hard-pressed claimants and saving the DWP time and money.
    The Work & Pensions Select Committee has issued a call for evidence on the effectiveness of assessment processes used to determine eligibility for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Both benefits are aimed at supporting sick and disabled people. The Committee will hold hearings and issue a report making recommendations. Currently an appeal to an independent tribunal can’t be made until an internal review of the decision by the DWP has been undertaken.
    In its submission to the Select Committee the charity identifies that the high success rates for claimants in formal appeals – around 70% of cases taken by FRU - suggests that the mandatory reconsideration stage provides little value. Most mantantory reconsiderations rely upon the same medical assessment that the original decision is based upon. In FRU’s experience claimants don’t send additional evidence to the DWP after failing to get a favourable decision, due to a combination of a lack of understanding about the process, the relevance of certain medical evidence, or that they can request new evidence from medical professionals.
    In its evidence FRU states that independent appeal hearings in the Social Entitlement Chamber give an opportunity for claimants to explain their difficulties in front of an expert panel, which often reveals relevant evidence which had not previously been considered. Ultimately, the nature of the inquisitorial powers of the Tribunal (whether in respect of gathering evidence, providing medical, legal and administrative expertise in the context of social security law, or the Tribunal’s ability to take detailed oral evidence from the claimant), allow for a more holistic re-assessment of the Original Decision than the mandatory reconsideration could reasonably be expected to make.
    FRU’s Chief Executive David Abbott said:
    “Last year FRU represented over 450 people in social security appeal tribunals, with most of these cases concerning PIP or ESA decisions. FRU welcomes the Inquiry into PIP and ESA assessments. We have taken the opportunity of the inquiry to draw on our clients’ experience to highlight how the current system can be improved.
    It is unfortunate that so many claimants feel that the decision on their entitlement isn’t right. So long as that is the case FRU recommends that the DWP mandatory reconsideration should be abolished and greater resource put into getting decisions right first time and ensuring that independent tribunals can be an effective route to resolving any disputes.”

  • Congratulations are in order!
    Fri, 10/13/2017 - 12:31

    FRU has had a baby! Congratulations to Sharon Sneddon, our long-standing office manager who this week had baby Noah. Sharon, Noah and Sharon's husband Tony are all doing well and everyone here looks forward to meeting this next generation FRU volunteer.

  • Fundraising for our Walk the Thames Team 2017
    Fri, 09/29/2017 - 13:40

    FRU put together a team of Staff, including David Abbott, CEO of FRU, for the “Walk the Thames” event, organised by the London Legal Support Trust. Teams of walkers from across the legal profession raised money to support free legal advice services across London. 

    The money raised by our team will go directly to supporting the work of FRU.

    There is still time to support our teams effort. If you haven't done so already, please consider sponsoring them. The walk is 26 miles  on Saturday October 28th . It will most likely be cold and at least sometimes wet.

    Please consider sponsoring our team:



  • Walk the Thames for FRU 2017; Will you join us?
    Fri, 09/22/2017 - 12:27

    Walk the Thames for FRU 2017; Will you join us?
    On Saturday 28th October FRU will be taking part in Walk the Thames.  We would love to beat last years efforts and have as many walkers as possible join our team and to help raise much needed funds.

    Walk the Thames is a half marathon or full marathon event which you can walk, run or cycle. It is a great opportunity to have a pleasant (but still challenging) walk along the banks of the Thames.  More information about the event can be found here.

    If you would like to join the FRU team, please send an email noting your interest and telling us if you are joining us for the half or full marathon.  We will send further information to walkers once they have registered with us.  Friends and family are also welcome to join the team.

    If you are unable to take part in the walk, please consider donating to our teams efforts.  FRU's online donation page can be found here

    We do hope that you can join us.